Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Born Again” by Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons from their 2009 album Death Won’t Send a Letter on Black Seal.
Not many new artists get this chance: to record in LA and Nashville with Grammy-winning producers, backed by members of acclaimed bands like The Raconteurs, My Morning Jacket, and Band of Horses, and positioned by expert marketing forces to hit the ground running… hell, for that matter, to run before the race has even started. And seem as that may be for Cory Chisel — whose name is surely new to most everyone reading this review and whose forthcoming album was produced by Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, The White Stripes, Beck) and recorded with folks like “Little Jack” Lawrence, Carl Broemel, Blake Mills, and Brendan Benson — the songwriter has actually been performing music since he was a child and had self-released an album and an EP before the pros took notice. Raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he’s lived for nearly twenty years, Chisel grew up the son of a Baptist minister and the nephew of a blues musician, though apparently all of his uncles are guitar players. Gospel and blues became his musical mainstays, though it wasn’t long until Cory Chisel formed a band and recorded an album of original songs (high school).
Over the years, through persistent performing, he built a following within the Fox Valley community that eventually extended outward and brought a deal with a major label subsidiary. Two years since then, he’s ready to release his label debut. Today’s Song of the Day, “Born Again,” co-written with Brendan Benson and Chisel’s longtime backing vocalist and keyboard player Adriel Harris, is a particularly lively track that showcases the blend of rock, folk, and blues characterizing Death Won’t Send a Letter. It doesn’t hurt that all three non-Jack White Raconteurs back the song, but it’s Chisel’s soulful old-beyond-his-years voice that sells it. And by the end of the song, when you’re shaking your head and clapping along, you’ll realize you were listening to a gospel song the whole time.
West Coasters can join the handclaps as Cory Chisel wanders from Vancouver to LA, with a stop at The Crocodile on September 1. Check out his MySpace page for other dates. For now, get baptized with the video for “Born Again”: